Shillong, Oct 14 – The influential Khasi Students Union (KSU) has announced a two-night road blockade in Meghalaya beginning Wednesday to protest a proposed uranium mining project in the state.
The road blockade would affect vehicular movement, specially night passenger buses and goods laden trucks, on the national highways between Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura.
The blockade will be on from 7 p.m. till 5 a.m. Wednesday, and then again for the same duration Thursday.
‘The KSU at a meeting Tuesday decided to intensify its stir… to protest the Meghalaya government’s decision to lease out land to the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL),’ said KSU president Samuel B. Jyrwa.
‘The KSU believes the uranium project would harm the environment and health of people living adjoining areas,’ Jyrwa said.
The state government has tightened security across the Khasi and Jaintia Hills of southeastern Meghalaya.
‘We are concerned that the proposed road blockades may affect other northeastern states too,’ Meghalaya principal secretary (home) Barkos Warjri told reporters here.
Police heads of the four districts — East Khasi Hills, West KhasiHills, Jaintia Hills and Ri-Bhoi — have been asked to see that the traffic flow along the national and other highways are not disturbed due to the night blockade.
Chief Minister D.D. Lapang told reporters: ‘The uranium reserves are a national property and no one can stop the government from using them.’
‘The government has waited for 20 long years to persuade the people to allow uranium mining at Domiasiat in West Khasi Hills district of southern Meghalaya.’
The KSU and local parties have been spearheading the movement against the Meghalaya government’s decision to allow the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) to carry out pre-project development programmes in 422 square hectares in the uranium-rich
areas of West Khasi Hills.
A senior Meghalaya government official said the union ministry of environment and forests had already allowed UCIL to start uranium mining for the annual production of 375,000 tonnes of uranium ore and processing of 1,500 tonnes of the mineral ore per day in West Khasi Hills district.
The UCIL has proposed a Rs.1,046 crore open-cast uranium mining and processing plant at Domiasiat in the West Khasi Hills district. Meghalaya has an estimated 9.22 million tones of uranium ore deposits.